Nicholas Otterson (1825-1880)
- Born Jarrow, Durham, England
- Died Gateshead, Durham, England
- Married 1845 in Sunderland, Durham, England, to Hannah Eliza Calvert, and 1857 in Sunderland to Sarah Ann West Scott
Hannah Eliza Calvert (1825-1851/1857)
- Born Sunderland, Durham, England
- Died Sunderland, Durham, England
- One child
Sarah Ann West Scott (1826-1901)
- Born 1825 Hetton Lyons, Durham, England
- Died 1901 Houghton le Spring, Durham, England
- Two children to previous husband
Nicholas Otterson was christened in the historic St. Paul’s Church in Jarrow in September of 1825. It is an ancient church, in an ancient town, and parts of it in use today date back to the 13th century. But in 1825 the Ottersons had lived there for only a few years, and Jarrow was already showing some of the characteristics that would soon label it as a boom town of the Industrial Revolution.
Top: Jarrow colliery, about 1840.
Above: Inside St. Paul's church, the ancient monastery in Jarrow with a rich history. Nicholas and five of his brothers and sisters were christened at the side of this font.
Above, right: The old bridge across the River Don at Jarrow. Built in the early 1700s, this bridge near St. Paul's church would have been familiar to the Otterson children. The bridge has now been made redundant by other crossings, but it was once important to the monastery as the route to the north.
THE FATHER OF THE FAMILY, also named Nicholas, was a sailor early in life but had switched to coal mining as that industry in County Durham grew rapidly. The colliery at Jarrow would provide employment not only for Nicholas Snr., but also for his sons.
Son Nicholas was the sixth child in the family. By the time he appears on the first published census of England in 1841, he is in his early teens, the family has moved back to Monkwearmouth Colliery in Sunderland, and is living in a home owned by the coal company.
He was only 19 when he married Hannah Calvert, daughter of a sailor from Sunderland. Since hers was a sailing family - father and brothers all worked on ships - it's reasonable to speculate that Nicholas's father and Hannah's father knew each other and may have introduced the pair.
They were married in January of 1845 and their son John was born in December. Unusual for the time, John would be their only child - at least, the only one to survive. Some time in the early 1850s, Hannah died, leaving son John as an only child. Although civil registration and the compulsory recording of death certificates had been introduced a few years earlier, it has not proved possible to pinpoint Hannah's death date or the cause. It would be some years yet before civil registration was universally applied, even though the law required it.
In 1857, Nicholas remarried. His wife had also been widowed and had two children of her own. Sarah Scott, formerly Sarah West, was the same age as Nicholas - 31, and the mother of Thomas and Jane, ages 7 and 5. They would have no more children together.
Nicholas’s home at the time was in Brook Street on Monkwearmouth Shore, edging the River Wear. However, the family moved to Houghton-le-Spring, not far to the south, where Sarah had been born.
There, Nicholas was able to work at the local colliery but also supplement the family income by working in a pub. The 1871 census lists him as a coal miner and publican. He was still quite young at that time - just 46 - but Nicholas died when he was only 55. His second wife, Sarah, lived for another 20 years and worked well into her late 60s. She passed away from heart disease and exhaustion at Houghton-le-Spring in February of 1901. She was 73.
Ironically, the one son, John Otterson, born to Nicholas and Hannah, grew up to marry and have ten children, most of whom survived to adulthood.